Design Kush is a Denver-based cannabis marketing agency, founded by Shane Hammer and Tyler Aldridge, during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Design Kush was “created to help the overall cannabis movement by uplifting brands that are making a positive impact in the space.” I had the pleasure of speaking with Santino Martinez, their brand ambassador and customer success team member. He’s a multi-talented Afro-latino who also loves making music, farming, and smoking cannabis. Read on to learn how Design Kush impacts the cannabis space and helps nurture the culture.
A: Alaina | S: Santino
A: Tell us about yourself, Tino!
S: I manage culture and communications here at Design Kush. We make websites and we’re a digital strategy agency for cannabis companies. As for me, I make music and I’ve been a farmer for a long time as well—I write about the farm, so check it out on our blog! I’m originally from Colorado Springs, but I’m in Denver right now. So yeah, that’s me in a little bit of a nutshell.
A: Very dope! What’s the Design Kush origin story and what’re y’all about?
S: We launched during the pandemic with our two founders Shane Hammer and Tyler Aldridge. We provide web service as a digital strategy agency for the cannabis space. We have a website builder called KUSHY that’s a drag and drop builder like Wix, but it’s built with compliance in mind and ecommerce tools for cannabis businesses. Design Kush helps cannabis companies with their branding, marketing, and overall web presence. Right now, we’re a 5-person strong team.
A: Do you guys work locally, nationally or internationally?
S: We have clients that range from national to international. There’s Last Prisoner Project with Steve D’Angelo doing big things trying to free prisoners for cannabis crimes.
EZ Vending is another client of ours. They’re super tight: they have age verification biometric scans that read the veins in your finger, so you can use any of their machines anywhere. And then we’ve worked with multistate operators like Church Cannabis—they’re in Nevada, Michigan, and California. We’re trying to help everybody in every space in cannabis.
A: Tell me about your specific role.
S: So I do a couple of things. Besides being in customer success, I am helping the team with their cultural projects to keep it real to weed. I make sure that we’re helping the right types of businesses and that we’re making the right moves to really make the biggest impact for the people who need it—and needed right away.
A: Changing gears to focus on you again, what was your introduction to consuming cannabis and entering the industry?
S: My aunt had cancer, so to heal and cope, she was smoking weed. It’s been around in my family for a long time. My Uncle Stu’s daughter actually owns a dispensary in Oklahoma. But he always had plants growing in the yard. The uncle’s backyard type of deal was my first intro. My family was always smoking, had weed around or needed to use it as a patient.
A: What are your favorite strains? And what is the experience you look for?
S: Those couch lock strains! I like the cerebral highs too: a good sativa or anything that’s going to give a light and fuzzy in my head. I like that… but I like to be knocked out. And I don’t discriminate with the bud. I’m actually a big fan of CBD-heavy weed with about 5-8% THC right now. I’m just loving the way it’s making me feel.
A: Yeeesss, I’m a fan of that as well. I can’t wait til Maryland gets more varied strains like that. As a final send off about Design Kush, what makes your agency different from others in the cannabis industry?
What makes us different is that we have people who come from this culture and respect this culture, while also respecting the importance of having a digital presence. Optimize and maximize. All of the untouched market is a link or a click away. And if you’re not maximizing that, you’re losing out. So our company takes that to heart. We go through best practices and build a company that is going to give the most with our digital services. That sets us apart for sure.
Alaina Dorsey is a professional draftswoman, freelance Creative Strategist and owner of Creative Ether, LLC, an artmaking and social media marketing company. Bud Biz Creativ is the cannabis, hemp and ecommerce side: she crafts brand lore-driven social content campaigns that are daring, distinct and experiential. It’s a brilliant amalgam of branding, strategy, social media and content marketing.
Written by: Alaina Dorsey
Edited by: Veronica Castillo
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